Thought for the Day – 22 June – The Memorial of St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr
His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church of Christ cost Thomas More his life.
Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on 6 July 1535, More steadfastly refused to approve King Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England.
Described as “a man for all seasons,” which title is drawn from what Robert Whittington, an English man of letters, in 1520 wrote of More:
“More is a man of an angel’s wit and singular learning. I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requires, a man of marvellous mirth and pastimes and sometime of as sad gravity. A man for all seasons.”
More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church in England, breaking with Rome, and denying the pope as head.
More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason, not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience.
Four hundred years later in 1935, Thomas More was Canonised a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In the year 2000, in fact, St Pope John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counsellor, he did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. King Henry himself realised this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he knew More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned. But when Thomas More resigned as chancellor, unable to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry, the king had to get rid of him. Before being executed he said, “I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.” The question is, would we too?
One Minute Reflection – 22 June – Saturday of the Eleventh week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Matthew 6:24–34 and the Memorial of St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr
Look at the birds in the sky,they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? ..Matthew 6:26
REFLECTION – “I will not mistrust Him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember, how Saint Peter at a blast of wind, began to sink because of his lack of faith and I shall do as he did, call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. And then I trust He shall place His holy hand on me and in the stormy seas, hold me up from drowning.”…St Thomas More (1478-1535)
“In the face of the situations of so many people, near and far, who live in wretchedness, Jesus’ discourse might appear hardly realistic, if not evasive . In fact, the Lord wants to make people understand clearly, that it is impossible to serve two masters – God and mammon [riches]. Whoever believes in God, the Father, full of love for His children, puts first the search for His Kingdom and His will. And this is precisely the opposite of fatalism or ingenuous irenics. Faith in Providence does not, in fact, dispense us from the difficult struggle, for a dignified life but frees us, from the yearning for things and from fear of the future.
It is clear that although Jesus’ teaching remains ever true and applicable for all it is practised in different ways according to the different vocations – a Franciscan friar will be able to follow it more radically, while a father of a family must bear in mind his proper duties to his wife and children. In every case, however, Christians are distinguished by their absolute trust in the heavenly Father, as was Jesus. It was precisely Christ’s relationship with God the Father that gave meaning to the whole of His life, to His words, to His acts of salvation until His Passion, death and Resurrection. Jesus showed us what it means to live with our feet firmly planted on the ground, attentive to the concrete situations of our neighbour, yet, at the same time keeping our heart in Heaven, immersed in God’s mercy.” … Pope Benedict XVI (Sunday, 27 February 2011).
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, we trust in You and abide in You. Grant us we pray, that by the prayers of our heavenly Mother, our Mother of divine Providence and St Thomas More, who said “I will trust Him”, that we too may ever know that You are with us and guide, help and feed us everyday. Through Christ our Lord with the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 22 June – St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was born on 7 February 1478 at London, England and was beheaded on 6 July 1535 on Tower Hill, London, England. Patronages – adopted children, civil servants, court clerks, difficult marriages, large families, lawyers, statesmen and politicians, stepparents, widowers, Ateneo de Manila Law School, Diocese of Arlington, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee; Kerala Catholic Youth Movement, University of Malta, University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters.
He was also a councillor to Henry VIII and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532. He wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary, ideal island nation.
St Thomas opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther, Henry VIII, John Calvin and William Tyndale. He also opposed the king’s separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and executed. Of his execution, he was said: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s first”.
Pope Pius XI Canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. St Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the patron saint “of Statesmen and Politicians”.
St Pope John Paul II Excerpt from the Apostolic letter issued Motu Proprio proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians 31 October 2000
“The life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More have been the source of a message which spans the centuries and which speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience, which (…) is “the most intimate centre and sanctuary of a person, in which he or she is alone with God, whose voice echoes within them” (Gaudium et Spes, 16). Whenever men or women heed the call of truth, their conscience then guides their actions reliably towards good. Precisely because of the witness which he bore, even at the price of his life, to the primacy of truth over power, Saint Thomas More is venerated as an imperishable example of moral integrity. And even outside the Church, particularly among those with responsibility for the destinies of peoples, he is acknowledged as a source of inspiration for a political system which has as its supreme goal the service of the human person.
(…) Thomas More had a remarkable political career in his native land. Born in London in 1478 of a respectable family, as a young boy he was placed in the service of the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Morton, Lord Chancellor of the Realm. He then studied law at Oxford and London, while broadening his interests in the spheres of culture, theology and classical literature. He mastered Greek and enjoyed the company and friendship of important figures of Renaissance culture, including Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam.
His sincere religious sentiment led him to pursue virtue through the assiduous practice of asceticism – he cultivated friendly relations with the Observant Franciscans of the Friary at Greenwich and for a time he lived at the London Charterhouse, these being two of the main centres of religious fervour in the Kingdom. Feeling himself called to marriage, family life and dedication as a layman, in 1505 he married Jane Colt, who bore him four children. Jane died in 1511 and Thomas then married Alice Middleton, a widow with one daughter. Throughout his life he was an affectionate and faithful husband and father, deeply involved in his children’s religious, moral and intellectual education. His house offered a welcome to his children’s spouses and his grandchildren, and was always open to his many young friends in search of the truth or of their own calling in life. Family life also gave him ample opportunity for prayer in common and lectio divina, as well as for happy and wholesome relaxation. Thomas attended daily Mass in the parish church but the austere penances which he practised were known only to his immediate family.
He was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1504 under King Henry VII. The latter’s successor Henry VIII renewed his mandate in 1510 and even made him the Crown’s representative in the capital. This launched him on a prominent career in public administration. During the following decade the King sent him on several diplomatic and commercial missions to Flanders and the territory of present-day France. Having been made a member of the King’s Council, presiding judge of an important tribunal, deputy treasurer and a knight, in 1523 he became Speaker of the House of Commons.
Highly esteemed by everyone for his unfailing moral integrity, sharpness of mind, his open and humorous character and his extraordinary learning, in 1529 at a time of political and economic crisis in the country he was appointed by the King to the post of Lord Chancellor. The first layman to occupy this position, Thomas faced an extremely difficult period, as he sought to serve King and country. In fidelity to his principles, he concentrated on promoting justice and restraining the harmful influence of those who advanced their own interests at the expense of the weak . In 1532, not wishing to support Henry VIII’s intention to take control of the Church in England, he resigned. He withdrew from public life, resigning himself to suffering poverty with his family and being deserted by many people who, in the moment of trial, proved to be false friends.
Given his inflexible firmness in rejecting any compromise with his own conscience, in 1534 the King had him imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was subjected to various kinds of psychological pressure. Thomas More did not allow himself to waver, and he refused to take the oath requested of him, since this would have involved accepting a political and ecclesiastical arrangement that prepared the way for uncontrolled despotism. At his trial, he made an impassioned defence of his own convictions on the indissolubility of marriage, the respect due to the juridical patrimony of Christian civilisation and the freedom of the Church in her relations with the State. Condemned by the Court, he was beheaded.
(…) Thomas More, together with 53 other martyrs, including Bishop John Fisher, was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. And with John Fisher, he was Canonised by Pius XI in 1935, on the fourth centenary of his martyrdom.
(…) The life of Saint Thomas More clearly illustrates a fundamental truth of political ethics. The defence of the Church’s freedom from unwarranted interference by the State is at the same time a defence, in the name of the primacy of conscience, of the individual’s freedom vis-à-vis political power. Here we find the basic principle of every civil order consonant with human nature.
(…) Therefore, after due consideration and willingly acceding to the petitions addressed to me, I establish and declare Saint Thomas More the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians and I decree, that he be ascribed all the liturgical honours and privileges which, according to law, belong to the Patrons of categories of people.”
Our Morning Offering – 22 June – Saturday of the Eleventh week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr
Father in heaven Be with Us Today By St Thomas More (1478-1535)
Father in heaven,
You have given us a mind to know You,
a will to serve You
and a heart to love You.
Be with us today in all that we do,
so that Your light may shine out in our lives.
We pray that we may be today,
what You created us to be
and may praise Your name in all that we do.
We pray for Your Church,
may it be a true light to all nations.
May the Spirit of Your Son Jesus,
guide the words and actions of all Christians today.
We pray for all who are searching for truth,
bring them Your light and Your love.
“Give us, Lord,
a humble, quiet, peaceable,
patient, tender and charitable mind
and in all our thoughts,
words and deeds
a taste of the Holy Spirit.
Give us, Lord,
a lively faith,
a firm hope,
a fervent charity,
a love of You.
Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation,
dullness in prayer.
Give us fervour and delight in thinking of You
and Your grace, Your tender compassion towards us.
The things that we pray for, good Lord,
give us grace to labour for,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
St Paulinus of Nola (c 354-431) (Optional Memorial) About St Paulinus: https://anastpaul.com/2018/06/22/saint-of-the-day-22-june-st-paulinus-of-nola-c-354-431/
St John Fisher (1469-1535) Martyr (Optional Memorial)
St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr (Optional Memorial
St Aaron of Brettany
St Aaron of Pais-de-Laon
St Alban of Britain
Bl Altrude of Rome
St Cronan of Ferns
St Eberhard of Salzburg
St Eusebius of Samosata
St Exuperantius of Como
St Flavius Clemens
St Gregory of Agrigento
St Heraclius the Soldier
St Hespérius of Metz
Bl Pope Innocent V
St John IV of Naples
St Julius of Pais-de-Laon
Bl Kristina Hamm
Bl Marie Lhuilier
St Nicetas of Remesiana
St Precia of Epinal
St Rotrudis of Saint-Omer
St Rufinus of Alexandria
Martyrs of Samaria – 1480 saints: 1480 Christians massacred in and near Samaria during the war between the Greek Emperor Heraclius and the pagan Chosroas of Persia. c 614 in the vicinity of Samaria, Palestine.